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Durango School District 9-R Announces Three New Hires

Sunnyside Elementary School welcomes Anita Walker as the new principal. Walker joins the district from Aurora, Colo., where she most recent served as principal and early childhood coordinator at Jamaica Early Childhood Center for the last eight years. Walker got her start as a kindergarten teacher more than 15 years ago, and served in several teacher on special assignment positions supporting both curriculum and instruction, operations and culture and equity.

“As the principal of Sunnyside Elementary I am looking forward to serving this community of students, families and staff,” says Walker. “The community of Sunnyside gives me the perfect opportunity to pursue my passion of providing equitable learning experiences for all students. Education is to be experienced and enrich our lives. Students deserve opportunities to develop their strengths and passion. I look forward to engaging all of our community members in this process.”

The Exceptional Student Services (ESS) department is proud to announce the hiring of their new ESS Coordinator, Samantha Tower. She will start with the department on July 1st, and is excited to support the district and share her expertise. In this position, Tower will support the Director of ESS in the overall operations and support in the department of the many staff that serve the schools and students through the department, including special education, therapy services and gifted and talented. Tower has served in the district for a number of years, most recently as the Assistant Principal for Animas Valley Elementary School. Tower has 10 years in the field of education, including as a behavior specialist at Florida Mesa Elementary and a school counselor prior to that for a school district in Wisconsin.

“I am thrilled and honored to take on this position and the opportunity to support all of our students access personal growth from a broader scope,” says Tower. “ As a 9-R employee and parent, my hope is that we can assure meaningful learning and essential experiences for every child that passes through our doors; and that this role will support that vision through the development of systematic practices that further allow our organization to meet the unique needs of all.”

The district also announces that David Tanaka will be taking on the role of assistant principal at Escalante Middle School next year. Escalante's enrollment has soared well over 500, prompting the addition of this position. David has been a teacher and administrator for twenty-one years, the last six with Durango 9-R-- most recently as the Director of Culture and Equity. He is thrilled to get back into the schools and work directly with teachers and students. 

"While I will always be grateful for the experience I've gained working at the district office, it also made me realize that my heart has always been in working with kids,” says Tanaka. “I am so excited that I have this opportunity to serve at Escalante. It has a really genuine, positive, spirited culture that the staff lives into every day-- I feel so lucky to be joining such a tremendous team." He will work closely with the current administration and the dedicated Escalante staff to further develop the Expeditionary Learning program, as well as support all students so that they can reach their highest potential.

To learn more about Durango School District 9-R or employment opportunities available throughout the district, visit durangoschools.org.